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- Bevo Is Glad The Hawks Lost
- Powell “I do know a lot of really good players come from Australia”
- Shawn Redhage 350 Games [Photos]
- Sydney Kings Sign Josh Powell
- Bennie Lewis Returns To Melbourne
- Lemanis Happy With Brisbane Crowd
- Cadee Stays In Sydney
- AJ Ogilvy Re-signs With Hawks
Pledger “Confident We Will Be Back In The Hunt”
- Updated: July 23, 2014
After 3 consecutive championships the New Zealand Breakers stumbled early last season and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Last season the team was without league MVP Cedric Jackson who left after the 2013 championship for the bigger bucks overseas. Veteran forward Dillion Boucher retired after 10 seasons and 4 NBL championships and two-time coach of the year Andrej Lemanis decided to leave the team for the Boomers head coach position.
The Breakers limped to a 2-6 start, firing import Darnell Lazare and signing former Breaker Gary Wilkinson. Not long after, big man Alex Pledger went down with a season ending injury.. In came 35 year old Casey Frank and the Breakers looked like they may make a push late in the season however the loss of a league MVP and coach of the year was just too much as New Zealand missed out on the playoffs.
Fast forward to July 2014 and there is hope in New Zealand again.
Cedric Jackson is back. Alex Pledger is back at full strength. Corey Webster tore up the NZNBL and could have a break out season now he is no longer in CJ Bruton’s shadow. New Zealand have also added some much needed youth in forwards Tai Wesley and Duane Bailey.
We asked Breakers big man Alex Pledger if he likes the Breakers chances at returning to championship form.
“.. Im not going to do a Rasheed Wallace and guarantee anything but with a player like Cedric returning combined with the motivation all the returning players have after how last season played out i’m definitely confident we will be back in the hunt.”
It’s hard to not get excited when you can add a player like Cedric “Action” Jackson on to your roster..
“Anytime you add a player of Cedric’s ability, someone who has proven he can lead a team to a championship, you have to be excited.”
With Jackson signed and playing the point guard position, we asked Pledge-Hammer if he knows where the other import will slot in – if they even decide to sign a 2nd import.
“There was a lot of speculation that the other import was going to be used to bring in a big who could play both the 4/5 but with the recent signings of Tai Wesley and Duane Bailey i’m not sure thats the direction the club will go in now.
“There’s a few possibilities for that second import spot. Its also possible we could go with 9 locals and only 1 import. I’ve played for Deano (Dean Vickerman) for a longtime now and have 100% confidence he will find two very talented players to round out the roster.”
One of the biggest blows for the Breakers last season was when Pledger was ruled out for the year. Before going down with an injury Pledger was averaging 10 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 1.6 bpg. Some fans were unsure if Alex would be back to 100% come season tip off, so we asked where he was at health wise and if he expects to be fully recovered in time.
“Yes I do absolutely expect to be at full health when the season starts. My ankle has healed very well, feels really good and virtually pain free.
“Unfortunately I injured the plantar plate underneath my big toe playing for the Tall Blacks in the recent series against Korea, which has possibly ruled me out of playing in the World Cup which i’m obviously gutted about! However this shouldn’t be an issue by the time the NBL tips off. Besides the little set back I’ve had with my toe my body feels great and am looking forward to getting the season underway!”
With Alex back at full strength, the only other question mark over the team is if young gun Reuben Te Rangi will play for the Breakers next season.
During the off season Te Rangi got into an off the court incident with a few team mates from his NZNBL team. He is listed as a signed player on the Breakers roster however his future with the team and the league is still in doubt for the moment.
New Zealand start their climb back to the top on October 10th against the defending champions and rivals, the Perth Wildcats at Perth Arena.